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Inheritances Shrinking in This Century

Several years ago researchers felt that by mid century there would be a big inheritance boom, somewhere between 41 trillion and 136 trillion dollars handed down from parents to children. Now things are different and not solely because of the economy. Here are some reasons why you may receive a smaller than expected inheritance:

1. Your parents are spending it all. Not intentionally maybe, but with the high cost of living, medical care, and long term care, their nest eggs may not be what they used to be. Nursing home costs can run as high as $60,000 a year or higher in some areas and long term health care may be too expensive.

2. Seniors are living longer. The National Center for Health Statistics said in 2004 that males who are 65 could live to be 82, females to 85. As seniors live longer, they consume more of their wealth.

3. Bigger families. Baby boomers come from families that were larger than today’s families. Parents of children born between 1946 – 1964 had an average of 3.5 children, thus leaving a smaller piece of the pie to be inherited by each child.

4. Some of the wealth of seniors today comes from sources that terminate upon death- pensions, social security, and some annuities.

5. Reverse mortgages and the economy now make it easier to drain a home’s equity. Today with the popularity of reverse mortgages, homeowners can tap into the equity in their homes and the pace is picking up with the problems in the economy.

6. The “Warren Buffet” philosophy. Warren Buffett, the world’s second richest man, believes that kids should get “just enough money to feel they could do anything but not enough to do nothing.” He intends to give most of his money to charity including the Melinda and William Gates Foundation.

7. Charitable giving seems to be on the rise in the last 50 years, particularly among the rich. As an example, last year billionaire Barron Hilton announced he was giving 97% of his estimated $2.3 billion estate to charity.

Even if you are not going to be receiving much of an inheritance, you should still talk to your parents or grandparents about their estate and be sure they have planned ahead by creating a living trust with powers of attorney and health care directives. Probate can be expensive and without a trust, an estate of more than $100,000 will have to be probated. For assistance with an estate plan, contact us at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation.

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